Sibelius Essay

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SIBELIUS Johan Julius Christian Sibelius was born on 8 December 1865 in Tavastehus, Finland, to a Swedish-speaking physician and his wife. Johan adopted the French form of his name, Jean, whilst studying, by which he is now universally known. Sibelius was a composer of the late Romantic period and is an important Finnish national figure due to his extreme nationalistic views, which he developed as a youth, and for the fame that his compositions brought to himself and his small nation. From the 13th century Finland had been under the control of the Swedish. However in 1809 Finland was taken over by the armies of Alexander 1 of Russia and Finland became an autonomous Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire. Although being under the control of Russians, the official language of Finland was Swedish with Russian being taught in schools. From the 1860s there was also a strong Finnish nationalist movement, the Fennoman, that encouraged the use of Finnish as a language and by 1892 Finnish had equal status as a language as did Swedish. Sibelius was brought up mainly by his grandmother, mother and two aunts as his father died in a Typhoid epidemic in 1867. He was taught the violin by a garrison conductor and by the age of 15 desired to be a great virtuoso violinist. Although from a Swedish-speaking family, Sibelius attended the Finnish Language School which played an important role in developing the “fervent nationalist and patriotic spirit that was so integral a part of his personality and a source of inspiration for many of his own compositions.” His grandmother disliked the idea of Sibelius becoming a musician and he therefore entered the University of Helsingfors as a law student. However, he soon dropped out to study music at the Helsinki Music School, now named the Sibelius Academy. After spending time in Berlin, Sibelius returned to Finland and wrote his first
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